I don’t care what colours your preferred political party are—Jack Layton was a great Canadian leader. He was, and continues to be, an inspirational force. Canadian pride is limitless. It forms lumps in even the most temperate of Canadian throats. Jack Layton knew this. He felt this.
In the days before his death, he penned a letter to his beloved compatriots, showing his grit for life and his passion for his country.
For those of us that live in the shadow of cancer daily, every death from a cancer recurrence is a direct attack against our own survival odds. Jack’s humble and selfless personalization and reflection to this fear in his letter moved me to tears. He has known my fear.
“Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue. To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.”
In his closing, Jack shared a truth. A truth that underlines the basis of his personal victories—and can no longer be considered political agenda hoopla.
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. All my very best, Jack Layton”
Good night smilin’ Jack. Sweet dreams.
There is something inherently cool about an independent bookstore. Just about every city has one, and they are an important cultural figure in their community offering valuable experience to their customers. Their mission is authentic.
Indie bookstores don’t subscribe to standard floor plans that force you through titles based on publisher investments—dictated by an unseen head-office. The owner and staff don’t wear matching uniforms that sell their brand instead of the books, and they rarely need to check a computer to find out who their next guest-speaker is. An Indie bookstore builds their loyal clientele with one common denominator—an enduring love of books.
In my community, our Indie place is A Different Drummer Books. Nestled in the downtown core, this bookseller offers a magical escape with its lofty, vibrant and rich space. Once inside, your ears immediately fill with the whispered stories of varied authors. A colourful collage of their covers and spines proudly line the shelves and tables in an organized freedom. Natural light dances across their titles creating a rhythmic and dramatic whimsy—so much more appealing than the harsh focus of the soldiering fluorescent bulbs of a box book store.
I am grateful to have such an experiential bookstore to daydream and explore in. If you happen to be in the Burlington area, stop in at 513 Locust Street and check it out. Say hello to the owner, Ian Elliott, and after you’ve basked in the atmosphere of his shop, take a stroll through the magnificent gardens.
Oh, and while you’re there, look for Indie authored books to explore—like my very own novel, in a celandine world.
UPDATE: After I posted this blog, my friend, Bo Pelech, emailed me with his favourite Indie bookstore. The Book Mark in Etobicoke is Toronto’s oldest independent bookstore. For 44 years, this indie bookseller has maintained a cozy and friendly charm in the west-end Bloor St. village of Kingsway. Check it!